SEO for Developers: Pagination

This is a guide for web developers that covers my best practices, code examples, and tips to optimize SEO when using pagination on a website.

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Learn how to optimize SEO when using pagination on your website. This is a guide for web developers that covers my best practices, code examples, and tips to ensure your paginated content is accessible and visible to both users and search engines.


Pagination is great! When your site grows in complexity and you have a lot of content that needs to fit on one page, Pagination can help you structure everything without overwhelming your users or increasing loading times.

Pagination divides the content into smaller, more manageable pages.

Screenshot of an example pagination on a website

However, pagination can also present challenges for search engine optimization (SEO), as search engines may not always crawl all pages in a paginated series, potentially leading to a loss of visibility and traffic. In this blog post, we will explore some best practices for optimizing SEO when implementing pagination on your website or web app.

1. Use a consistent URL structure

Search engines and web crawlers are smart! They see certain patterns themselves. But for that, there must be patterns!

Therefore, I recommend to use a consistent URL structure for your paginated content.

A consistent URL structure could look something like this:

<a href="/page/1">1</a>
<a href="/page/2">2</a>
<a href="/page/3">3</a>

If you want to, you can remove the 1 for the first page.

Make it as clear as possible that the different URLs are the same content split into chunks.

DON’T do something like this:

<a href="/page-1">1</a>
<a href="/page-2">2</a>
<a href="/page-3">3</a>

and DON’T mix it up:

<a href="/page-1">1</a>
<a href="/page/2">2</a>
<a href="/page?p=3">3</a>

According to Google, It doesn’t matter if you include the page number in the path itself or as a parameter, so this example is okay too:

<a href="/?page=1">1</a>
<a href="/?page=2">2</a>
<a href="/?page=3">3</a>

Just be consistent about what pattern you use.

2. Implement rel=prev/next tags

Another very important tip. Not so much for Google, but for any other search engine this is crucial.

In case you didn’t know: You can use HTML tags in the <head> of your page to signal web crawlers the relations between your paginated pages and how they are linked together.

Imagine we’re browsing through a pagination and we’re on page 3.

Then, we can tell the browser/search engine/web crawler what the previous and next pages are using the <link> tags below:

  <link rel="prev" href="/page/2" />
  <link rel="next" href="/page/4" />

Google themselves say in their documentation:

“Google no longer uses these tags, although these links may still be used by other search engines”

So even though Google does not seem to use these tags anymore, they are still very much important for any other search engine.

3. Canonicalization of links

This tip is something you should be doing already, regardless of whether you have paginated content or not. But be careful! It’s very easy to mess up canonical links when dealing with paginated content.

What is canonicalization?

There’s another kind of <link> tag that can signal a search engine what the preferred URL for a piece of content is.

On a website, there are all kinds of redirects and a lot of ways duplicate content could end up on search engines, further decreasing your ranking.

One example: A web page is accessible at http and https . Boom! Now there are two versions of the same webpage.

Another example: A web page is accessible at and . Boom! Another version.

You can prevent this from being a problem by telling search engines that all these versions are the exact same piece of content by including the following tag in your <head> :

  <link rel="canonical" href="" />

Now, the search engine knows that the preferred way of accessing this page is , regardless of how it got there.

Canonicalization and pagination

Canonicalization can also help you make sure search engines understand your link structure when you have paginated content BUT only if every sub-page has it’s own, unique canonical link tag.

Imagine we’re on page 3 of a blog:

Correct ✅:

  <link rel="canonical" href="" />

Incorrect 🚫:

  <link rel="canonical" href="" />

Note: When on a sub-page, do not link back to the root page in the canonical link tag!

4. Optimize page titles and meta descriptions

My last tip is to use dynamic variables in page titles and meta descriptions that give more context and make them unique.

You could include the page number in the title and description, for instance.

  <title>Page {{ page_number }} -</title>
  <meta name="description" content="Page {{ page_number }} of our collection of articles on {{ category_name }}." />


By following these best practices, you can make it much easier for search engines to understand your site and its structure. Even when not all your pages are crawled at the same time and in a row (which is very likely), your chances of ranking in the search results and having search engines discover all the content on your page are high.